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Vic Greens majority triggered: for the first time in more than four years, a Bill overturned

Posted by gmarkets on 10 September, 2007

For the first time in more than four years, a Victorian Government Bill was blown away, and a mushroom cloud of outrage erupted from the government benches, reported The Age (8/9/2007, p.4). Thumbs-down on nuclear: Delighted Liberals were momentarily stunned. The three new Green members – Greg Barber, Sue Pennicuik and Colleen Hartland – had just activated the balance of power entrusted to them by voters last November in the most surprising manner, siding with the Liberals to defeat a bid to give Victorians a vote on whether nuclear reactors could be built here. In fact, what preoccupied the Greens for most of their first 10 months in the parliament was below-the-radar grunt work of procedural reform – restructuring the parliamentary committee system and revising standing orders – which was just as they promised before the poll.

Forced to negotiate: As Sue Pennicuik insisted as she campaigned for her seat, it was in exploiting the process that the Greens would magnify their influence. The Greens have brought an added dimension of interest to government, said Nic Economou, “and what will be really interesting is what they do next, because I think the Brumby Government has a real problem brewing out on Port Phillip Bay – the channel”. While Labor has testily resisted being dictated to by the Greens on any amendments thus far, it might eventually think about negotiating, Economou said. But it would hurt.

Long animosity: The long animosity had only become more bitter since the contest last November, and ahead of the federal poll. “The Greens are seen by Labor as really serious rivals, political enemies,” Economou said. Labor couldn’t like the Greens despite – and because of – their shared constituency, said parliamentary analyst Professor Brian Costar. True, within parliament there were eyebrows raised at their concerns regarding the toxicity of the paint applied to Hartland’s office; bemusement at an insistence on environmentally friendly carpet; and consternation at their demands that the gas-guzzling vehicles they inherited from previous members be immediately traded in on hybrid vehicles (they’ve since secured one).

Greens are not extremists: But, “it seems to me that the three of them don’t fit the stereotype that the Exclusive Bretheren would have us believe the Greens are,” observed Costar. “They are common, domesticated garden Greens … not extremists.” They rejected Labor’s claims that they cosied up to the Liberals with a secret deal. Figures that they sided with the Liberals on 68 per cent of votes were selective, they said. “There have been 43 Bills that the government has put up, and we’ve voted against three of them.”

The Age, 8/9/2007, p. 4

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